‘Sun Records’ Episodes 2-4 Review
For the review of the first episode of Sun Records click HERE
The eight episode saga of the birth of rock n’ roll in Memphis continues to unfold and more players are introduced. Ike Turner waltzes into the famous studio on Union Avenue with his game changing song Rocket 88, which is taken from him and credited to his bandmate Jackie Brenston. But the one who steal every scene he’s in is Christian Lees as the strangely charming troublemaker Jerry Lee Lewis. Lees is backed up by his real life twin brother Jonah Lees as his cousin Jimmy Swaggart (who would go on to become a famous evangelist). In addition the show runners tied the current music scene of the Midsouth to the past with the inclusions of Pokey LaFarge as Hank Snow and Memphis guitar virtuoso Will Tucker as Scotty Moore.
In addition to new characters joining, pre-existing characters are expanded on. Kevin Fonteyne finally gets to bust out his baritone vocals in a memorable scene in a German beer hall. Back in Memphis Sam Phillips continues a downward spiral as he continues to churn out one-hit wonders but finding no meaningful success. Musicians such as BB King get their exposure with Sun Records only to venture out to big national labels to build their careers. But his luck changes when at the end of episode 4, a young truck driver by the name of Elvis Presley wanders into the studio to record an album for his mother’s birthday, thus begins a music legend. But the standout in this ensemble of characters is comedian Billy Gardell as the infamous Colonel Tom Parker who schemes his way through the music industry with a sleazy charisma you can not help but love to hate.
The story continues to be paced as a prequel of sorts to the story we all know of these music legends. Things like “Folsom prison” are alluded to as a wink to the audience. And once again the fact that the series was actually filmed in Memphis rather than stand-in settings in Louisiana or Alabama as many other productions do adds an extra level of authenticity. Students of history will notice some elements of the Sun Records story are embellished or glossed over entirely (Carl Perkins has still yet to be even mentioned in the show). As mentioned in the review of the first episode this slow paced style of storytelling will be rewarded if there is a big pay off at the end. Until then we get to enjoy some great performances by a stellar cast.